Neighborhood disorder and anxiety symptoms: New evidence from a quasi-experimental study

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Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between neighborhood disorder and anxiety symptoms. It draws on data from the Monitoring Mt. Laurel Study, a new survey-based study that enables us to compare residents living in an affordable housing project in a middle-class New Jersey suburb to a comparable group of non-residents. Using these new data, we test the hypothesis that living in an affordable housing project in a middle class suburb reduces a poor person's exposure to disorder and violence compared to what they would have experienced in the absence of access to such housing, and that this lesser exposure to disorder and violence yields improvements in anxiety that can be attributed to residents' reduced stress burden. We find that residents of the project are less likely to be exposed to disorder and violence and have lower stress levels and slightly fewer anxiety symptoms. Differences in exposure to disorder explain differences in stress burden, and, hence, anxiety symptoms between the two groups.

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